There has been much news of late about the increasing "Bollywood" influence on entertainment in the Western world. The Oscar nomination of Lagaan in 2001, along with the bollywood-inspired revival of the hollywood musical, as shown by the hit "Moulin Rouge" and the west-end success of Andrew Lloyd Webber's presentation of A. R. Rahman's musical Bombay Dreams have just been the high points of the increasing influence of Asian culture, especially in the UK.
As far music goes, collaboration between renowned artists in the West and the East goes back in time. Most famous of all is Pandit Ravi Shankar playing at Woodstock. Another group that went a long distance in finding common themes, and exploring musical possibilities is Shakti. Shakti, with John McLaughlin, L. Shankar, Vikku Vinayakram, R. Raghavan and Zakir Hussain, is often credited with pioneering the east-west fusion concept. This group came out with albums such as Shakti with John McLaughlin, Natural Elements, and Handful of Beauty. From this original 1970s group, some members came together again in the 1990s, to perform a series of concerts under the name "Remember Shakti" with other greats of Indian classical music such as Mandolin Srinivas, and Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia. The albums are Remember Shakti: Saturday Night in Bombay and Remember Shakti: The believer. Definitely worth a try, if you haven't already. I especially like "Shakti with John McLaughlin" and the "Remember Shakti" albums.
While on the topic, give a try to these other bands that also play a very interesting blend of Indian/Western music.
- Mangalam is a band that's inspired by Shakti's music. Listen to a few MP3s by Mangalam.